Saturday while driving home from the Ft Worth Arts Festival I passed what looked to be a mall, until driving further I realized that it was in fact Cabelas Sporting goods. I immediately felt this twinge in my soul, a yearning for something unseen and unknown. I was drawn to this building like salmon are drawn to the place of their birth, like swallows drawn to Capistrano. For reasons unseen but felt, I knew I needed to be here.
Sunday I got in the car and drove. I needed no directions, the car is a Dodge Charger, it knows the way and can navigate to any Cabelas without touching the wheel.
If you are not familiar with Cabelas, it is the size of a large shopping mall, without the hordes of teenagers. It has fish ponds around the outside of the property filled with fish that you can fish for, and people are doing so. Also around the outside of the building are boats, RV’s, Canoes and towable BBQs and all manner of large recreational device needing to be towed to be used. Cabelas is a mega store dedicated to the killing and eating of animals. Except for the fly fishing section which has a few small books on catching and releasing fish. Something unheard of in any other part of the store. This store has equipment and tools to kill any animal on the planet. They even have large fish tanks with all manner of game fish in them. Below is an Alligator Gar, Emily loves these. More I think about it, Emily would love this whole place.
The store is broken up into many parts or countries as I like to call them because they are as big as small countries. There are more guns in this store than half the worlds small countries military arsenals. There is a HUGE fishing section. It is the largest of all countries with several small states dividing fishing types. The state of Bass, the northern region of trout etc. There is every bait, lure and gadget known to man here. Its really overwhelming. My coworker Jeff who had invited me crappie fishing while here in Texas asked me to see if they had any purple and chartreuse tube jigs. I of course had no idea what this was, and asked for assistance from the camo wearing counter guy. You should note, that at no time should you ever ask for help in Cabelas. If you need to know what a tube jig is, you have no business fishing, being in this store, or having testicles for that matter. The guy gave me a look as if I had just told him I was from San Fransisco and loved lace doilies. I knew I was within seconds of him making a call to security so I quickly added “Uh I am a fly fisherman and am new to crappie fishing”. This was like telling him that although I still resided in San Fransisco that I in fact liked leather doilies and not lace. Only slightly less sinful. Fly fisherman are to fishing, what Richard Simmons is to working out. He gave me a chuff and took me to the tube jig AISLE. Yes an entire aisle dedicated to every color imaginable (although as luck would have it, not the color I needed) of tube jig. Camo shirt counter guy thought it funny to keep asking me questions about what I used when crappie fishing despite the fact I had already told him I hadn’t ever fished for crappie before. “So you ever use these super duper popper pink nightmares?” Uh no jackass. Can you cast it on a fly rod? Then the answer is no, just like I said BEFORE. Of course I said this in my head as all Cabelas employees are required to pack heat and I felt no need to get up the ire of camo counter man.
Next I wandered into the bow hunting section. Its just north of the moose in the pond filled with giant trout. I actually am very interested in the bow section as I have recently become strangely addicted to the hunting channel and bow hunting in particular. Bow hunting is the only real hunting in my opinion, as its most fair. Bow hunting grizzlies (which you may be shocked to know is actually done) is the most manly thing there is. Shooting a grizzly with a stick from 20 yards away is a sport that puts you and said grizzly on even ground, and if anything the grizzly has slightly better odds as shooting an arrow at anything rarely kills it immediately and therefore gives the bear enough time to completely consume you before dying. I go into the bow area and ooo and ahhh over the killing gadgets. Manufactures have really dug deep into their imagination to create some of these. Genghis Khan would be proud. My most favorite was called the Gobbler Guillotine. The guillotine is a tip for an arrow that has swords sticking out of it that are about three inches long. Their purpose is to decapitate turkeys when shot, thereby killing two birds with one stone (taking off the head which will eventually need to be done, AND killing it). You can check it out in action here, caution this is not for the faint of heart as you will be watching slow motion video of turkeys losing their heads: VIDEO Another camo clad employee notices me eaves dropping on their bow conversation and asks me if I need help. I throw all caution to the wind and tell him that I have recently become hooked on all things bow related yet know nothing about it. I ask him to demonstrate a few things I have seen on TV. Oddly enough, not like the fishing guy, seems completely happy to have someone interested in his section and immediately starts explaining the whole process to me. Look for all my trees in the back yard to be filled with holes soon.
After leaving the bow area, I take a tour of all the stuffed animals. The above is an entire hill filled with stuffed animals. My favorite can’t be seen in this picture. Its a deer that must have been the king of all deformed deers and most likely thanked god upon arriving in deer heaven for allowing it to be killed, thereby escaping what can only have been a tormented life of normal horned deer ridiculing him over his Don King like rack. He was labeled as a 127,895 point deer, or something near that. His head looked like barrel cactus, only instead of thorns, he had horns. I actually thought I had gotten his picture when I first added the above picture as the stick bush in the center looks like that deer’s head. I actually think its a hoax. Kind of like that rabbit in every truck stop in Montana with the deer horns, hilarious labeled “Jackalope”. I think someone did to this deer, what my grandfather used to do with his Christmas trees, which was to get any two trees and drill holes in the trunk of one and add branches from other to make one odd looking full branched tree.
Next was the gun area of the store. This is where you will see the real men milling about. There is everything gun and bullet related imaginable. The country of Nauru would love to get its hands on an arsenal like this store has. They would instantly become more powerful than the entire continent of Australia. There is even a gun museum in this area. I “mosey” up to the counter (you don’t walk in Texas) and start looking at handguns. The camo clad counter guy asks me if he can help me. Given my extreme lack of firearm knowledge, there is almost no reply that won’t make me look like a little girl with feeted princess jammies and a parasol, when at the last second, I see a sign on the counter that says “We only sell guns to Texas residents”. I say to him, “Well not now, I see that you won’t sell to out of state residents”. WHEW, SAFE! He replies “No sir, (they call you sir here, now I know where my dad gets it), we cain’t, the federal law prohibits it”. I tell him the government needs to keep their laws off my firearms, to which he and several others around me exclaim, “you got that right!”. Instantly I am taken into the fold and the counter guy looks much more friendly and tells me that if there is anything I would like to see, just ask and he would be glad to show it to me. I think that at any second I will get invited to go shooting sometime, but the invite never comes, I did tell him I was from Seattle (San Fransisco’s sister city) after all.
Lastly I wander into the clothes section. This is the entire center of the store. I stood there wondering why the center is completely taken up by clothes, then it hits me. This is the most important area! Most people can’t afford a $1000 gun or a $600 bow but for $24.95, I can buy a shirt that says BONE COLLECTOR or REMINGTON. I need not be a hunter or a gun owner, owning a shirt that declares this is close enough. For the price of a bucket of popcorn at a movie theater, I can join the club. Armed with a few bits of choice verbiage, I can stand with other t-shirt clad outdoorsman and pretend to know something. “Yeah so the other day, I picked up one of them guillotine broad heads for my bow” I would say. “Them gobblers don’t stand a chance now”. The other t-shirt wearing guys would nod in agreement, then I would most likely spit. Guys like to spit when they have spewed forth some bit of useless knowledge. Its like putting a period on their statement of wisdom. “Yep, that theres a cow” spit, or “Oooo Weee she look gooood in them shorts!” spit. Last year I visited the Bass Pro Shop store, its exactly like this store only with a different sign out front. When I was there, the only thing I bought was underwear. I found my favorite kind (pink, lacy etc) UnderArmour, Men’s O Series (no not kidding about the “O series” either) Boxerjock 6″ (I just put that detail in here so that everyone would know that I wear cool underwear). I found some for $10 which is incredibly cheap. My guess is that they were on sale because they were labeled as “nude” in color, which had to have been a monstrous marketing mistake by the Under Armour company. Real men do not wear underwear labeled as “nude” in color. I however, will wear them in pink with baby bunnies on the fly for $10, as they are usually $20, and I am a cheap ass.
Anyway on this day I managed to get out of the store with a knife sharpener (for a knucklehead friend of mine with knives with blades as sharp as a box of tissues, I can cut vegis with my pointer finger faster than cutting with her knives), a bag of jerky and tube jigs in a dazzling array of colors to excite and delight the crappie palette. I leave Cabelas a little bit sad that I don’t have more time and money and more of desire to kill things. I shed a small tear as I climb into the car. Not because I am leaving this place, because I have suddenly realized that I have forgotten to get a fishing license and now get to walk the mile through this expanse of a parking lot BACK into the store. I would sure love to have my memory back… Spit.